How To Identify Early Signs of Emotional & Verbal Abuse In Abusive Relationships? What Should Victims Do?
“Hey, I couldn’t help notice the book you’re reading, and I have to tell you that this is one of my favorites,” you hear someone say as you’re sitting at the coffee shop reading a book while it rains outside.
As you hear the pitter-patter of the rain outside, you get to talk about the book with the likable stranger. You click instantly, and you wonder if this person is “The One.”
“It would be such a good story to tell the kids,” you think. You have the same interests, and they’re just so out of this world. It is as if it’s destiny.
A year later, you’ve started crying yourself to sleep. You don’t eat well; you cant focus on work. Your day is spent in fear that your phone will start ringing, and you’ll have to comply with an unwanted interrogation about your whereabouts.
It was cute in the beginning, but now you have to report to your “better half” every hour. You seem to get into arguments that do not make sense because of which you keep asking yourself what happened to your relationship.
You’re reduced to a shell of a person, and you wonder if this is entirely your fault and that you’re not good enough for your partner.
The excerpt above reflects upon the signs and symptoms, and the mindset of what might happen in an emotionally abusive relationship. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 48.4% of women and 48.8% of men have faced at least one psychologically aggressive behavior by an intimate partner.
So how can we avoid getting into a relationship that could turn abusive?
Humans are complex beings who adopt a different persona according to circumstances. It is almost impossible to figure a person out based on the first few meetings. However, some behaviors may indicate what clinical psychologists refer to as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is characterized by an inflated sense of self, excessive need for admiration, and a general lack of empathy.
While someone you date might not be a person with NPD, studies have shown abusers can often have certain traits of NPD.
Red Flags To Identify An Abuser
Blaming: People with abusive tendencies often do not take responsibility and find excuses to blame people for the things that have gone wrong in their past. They often exaggerate the mistakes of the other party while playing the victim card.
Entitlement: An inflated sense of self goes hand in hand with a feeling of entitlement. They genuinely believe that they should be treated differently than everyone else.
Charisma: Narcissism and charm have been known to overlap, as studies show. The narcissist develops charm as a way of having power over people.
Superiority: Often seen with a person's tone of voice and overall body language. Usually, narcissists look for behaviors in their victims that they can exploit for their own benefits. This might include rudeness to people who might have a low financial status or people with lenient tendencies.
Predatory self-esteem: Predatory self-esteem is characterized by the need to belittle them to feel better about themselves. This might range from derogatory pet names to blackmail.
Pettiness: Abusive person often focuses on one small irrelevant detail of an argument and brews up a storm based on that single point.
Monitoring: While it might seem that a little clinginess hasn’t hurt anyone and might even make someone feel safe, we must know that obsessiveness towards partners might escalate into excessive control over finance, social life, and turn into unilateral decision making.
Abuse in a relationship can occur to anyone, and usually, we do not realize it. In many cases, victims of abuse cannot generate enough courage to tackle the issue. And it is also seen in most of the abusive relationship that the abusers either are unaware of their damaging behaviors or they are suffering from mental or personality disorder.
It can take years of intensive therapies and counseling for a victim of an abusive relationship to become rehabilitated to a normal way of life.
We must always comprehend that the abusers are also human and could also be brought back to normality with the right professional help.
Abusive behaviors occur in clusters, and isolated incidents should not be taken into consideration. When dealing with someone with abusive tendencies, it is imperative to establish boundaries.
Most of the behaviors shown by abusers have been linked to a traumatic childhood, learned behaviors, and a generally tricky life.
Although the abusers do not seek out therapy themselves, the ones that do usually go to therapy because people close to them force them to do so. People with abusive behavior require therapy with an experienced and skilled therapist to have a happy and fulfilling life.
In any case, if you are struggling with an abusive relationship or have experienced abuse, the safest thing to do is to see a therapist and figure out what you might do to live a normal life or to get out of the relationship.
If you are in a highly abusive relationship, you should get out of it if there’s still a chance.
(Disclaimer: This article is to raise awareness and should not be used for diagnosis.)